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Five On Your Side Follows Up On Raleigh Day Spa Closing

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Gift certificates are popular presents, but what happens when the business you buy one from shuts down? That is what customers of Emerald City Day Spa in Raleigh are dealing with. Five on Your Side has a follow-up to

WRAL's original story

, which aired last week.

Spas are for relaxation and pampering, but a gift certificate was no day at the spa for Angela Murtagh.

"I just think it's a shame," she said.

Days before Christmas, Angela's husband bought a $160 gift certificate from Emerald City Day Spa in north Raleigh. Two weeks later, the spa closed without warning. A sign on the door blames the events of Sept. 11.

Now Angela and a list of others who complained to Five On Your Side are left with worthless pieces of paper. Combined, they paid about $1,500.

"In good faith if you know you're having trouble, you shouldn't take someone else's money," Murtagh said.

Emerald City owner Deborah Winiewicz did not return Five On Your Side's phone calls, so we tried to talk with her at home, but she had no comment. Winiewicz now works at Samuel Cole Salon.

An interesting footnote, press releases sent from Winiewicz's spa last fall made it appear the business was in good shape.

  • On Sept. 25, a press release said: "Despite Recent Corporate Layoffs, A Local Spa Expands."
  • On Dec. 12 -- "Emerald City Day Spa Donates $1,000 to the September 11th fund" -- the very thing she now said forced her to close.
  • On Dec. 17 -- Winiewicz offered "Great Savings" and a New Year's Eve spa package, but again days later, the doors were shut.
  • "Now, I have no Christmas gift and my husband lost $160," Murtagh said.

    Serena Milne owns Serena Signature Spa. When Milne heard about the problems, she decided to honor the Emerald City gift certificates.

    "It's a remarkable opportunity to please people and to serve them, and I think that we'll bring a lot of goodwill to the community this way," she said. "We're just here to pick up the pieces a little bit."

    Milne said she will be able to accommodate two to three of the Emerald City gift certificates per week and will extend the expiration date through the end of 2002.

    A general caution: Gift certificates are very handy, but if the business closes, there is not much you can do to recover your money.


    Monica Laliberte, Reporter
    Greg Clark, Photographer
    Lori Lair, Producer
    Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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